Today there are hundreds of travel options when it comes to South African Safaris, from fully-fledged package tours that organise everything from airport transfers to game drives in the days, to do-it-yourself trips, where the more intrepid traveller is left a little more to their own devices. But whatever style of trip you decide to go for, the chances are you’ll have to fly in (or out) of one of one of South Africa’s major so-called ‘safari airports’, each of which has a number of different advantages and disadvantages, depending on where you’re looking to visit in the country.
For the best access to the Kruger National Park (in many ways the golden child and jewel in the crown of South African safaris), the converted old military air base at Hoedspruit is one of the most popular options for tourists heading to the game reserves. The small and low key, and served only by a handful of domestic and African continental connections, a popular choice is to arrive here from Johannesburg or Cape Town, from where it’s easier to find low-cost international flight arrivals coming from across the globe.
The busiest airport serving the South African northeast, however, is the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, which has a number of connections to the country’s other major cities (including Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town) along with some international flights to destinations across the continent.
Also within close proximity to the Kruger Park, the much smaller Phalaborwa Airport (also known as the Hendrik Van Eck Airport) is a viable option for travellers coming from the capital. In fact, the daily connection to Johannesburg is the only regular flight option on offer here.
For tailor-made trips and bespoke travel packages, many visitors will enjoy the use of a number of private airstrips that are dotted throughout the north east of South Africa near to the game reserves. These are organised on a per-request basis, and through individual agents only.